This year's winners of the 2012 Acorn Awards, sponsored by ACT Clean, can look forward to a weekend at a luxury country retreat. Janet Harmer describes the process for entering one of the hospitality industry's most inspiring awards
The search is now on for 30 of the UK's brightest and most promising talents under the age of 30. Now in their 26th year, the Acorn Awards are firmly established as the benchmark for recognising tomorrow's movers and shakers of the hospitality industry.
Over the course of the past quarter of a century, 750 people have earned the right to be called an "Acorn Award Winner", a statement which has been of great help in propelling them up the career ladder.
At the launch of this year's awards, held at London's One Aldwych hotel, Sean Wheeler, himself an Acorn winner in 1992 when he was general manager at TGI Friday's in Reading and now area director of human resources at the Dorchester Collection UK, said that he would always look twice at any candidate who has the award listed on their CV.
Indeed, the roll-call of past winners includes a number of figures who have received recognition far beyond the industry, such as Gary Rhodes and Marco Pierre White, while others have gone on to some of the industry's top jobs. Caroline Fry, for example, has risen through the ranks at contract caterer CH&Co. When she won her Acorn Award in 1995 she was operations manager; today she is the company's chief executive - business and industry.
So, the winners of the 2012 Acorn Awards will be in very distinguished company. Each year, the honours are bestowed on young people who are regarded as outstanding talents, have a commercial outlook, are creative in their respected sectors and are regarded as an inspiration to their peers.
Entrants from all sections of the hospitality industry - from pubs, bars and restaurants to hotels, food service and contract catering, are welcome. From today, you can start to make your nominations online and give recognition to young individuals who are making a widespread impression on their place of work.
At ACT Clean, we know that our business and its success begins and ends with the quality, commitment and aspirations of our team and the job that they do. Creating great experiences and partnerships, demonstrating excellence and making impressions is all about people.
The Acorn Awards have long recognised, rewarded and celebrated these attributes and the exceptional talent within our fantastic and dynamic industry that enhances its reputation. That's why at ACT Clean we're proud and delighted to be supporting the awards as they enter their 26th year - and beyond.
We see our support of the Acorn Awards as playing a very small role in supporting a vital scheme in an industry we can all be proud to belong to - recognising its future leaders and giving them a platform from which to shine still further.
John Stevenson, director, ACT Clean
Nominations for the 2012 Acorn Awards should be completed online by visiting www.catererandhotelkeeper.com/acorns.
The closing date for nominations is 18 May, with judging taking place on 26 June. For further details, please contact Shiva Hobson, group events manager, on 020 8652 3094 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Then Chef-patron, Braeval Old Mill, Aberfoyle, Stirling
Now Celebrity and consultant chef, restaurateur, proprietor of Nick Nairn Cook School
On winning an Acorn "Travelling down to London to collect the award was incredibly exciting, especially as I was in the company of such stellar chefs as Gary Rhodes and Bruno Loubet. It was a real big deal and the first time I had been recognised nationally."
Then Resident manager, Moat House International, Glasgow
Now Operations manager, Hand Picked Hotels
On winning an Acorn "As my career has progressed, every time I have been interviewed the award has been mentioned and discussed. The award is a recognised mark of achievement, and although mine is from a different century, it still carries significant clout!"
Then Director of sales, Four Seasons, London
Now General manager, Beverly Wilshire, Los Angeles, a Four Seasons Hotel
On winning an Acorn "Winning an Acorn Award back in 1999 was a great honour and achievement for me. It was definitely one of my career highlights and I'm so appreciative to Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine for the recognition."
Then General manager, Inchyra Grange, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
Now Chief executive and founder, Aurora Hotel Collection (owner of 11 hotels)
On winning an Acorn "It was incredible to meet so many people from different sectors of the industry, all on the same wavelength. It helped set me up for the future."
Then Operations manager, Compass Group
Now Managing director, ISS Food & Hospitality
On winning an Acorn "Winning was one of the proudest moments of my career - it provided me with the confidence that I was doing a great job and gave me the drive that I could really fulfil my ambitions in the industry."
Then Hotel manager, Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum, London
Now General manager, Apex City of London, London
On winning an Acorn "It is a great accolade and really humbling to win. There's no doubt it helped establish me within the London hotel network."
BOVEY CASTLE THE 2012 VENUE
The 400-acre estate of Bovey Castle is the setting for the 2012 Acorn weekend, which will take place on 23 to 24 September.
All 30 winners of this year's awards will gather at the 64-bedroom hotel (with 14 lodges) for a celebratory lunch, an informal dinner and a host of activities which will ensure everyone gets to know each other.
Located in the middle of the Dartmoor National Park , Bovey Castle is well known as a venue for country pursuits such as falconry, fly fishing and cider-making.